You Shouldn’t Neglect Chimney Maintenance
Chimneys are strong and durable – but not invincible. Over time, certain issues will arise that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Neglecting maintenance tasks can end up costing you a lot of money in major chimney repairs and can make your chimney unsafe to use and live around.
Here are three common problems that can happen if your chimney system fails to get regular cleaning, inspections and needed repairs.
When wood burns, it forms a substance known as creosote, which can be sticky, puffy, flakey or solid. Creosote clings to the interior surfaces of your flue and is highly flammable.
When creosote isn’t regularly cleaned out by a professional, a devastating chimney fire can occur. Smaller fires also happen, and often the homeowner isn’t aware of them. No matter the size, all chimney fires can eventually destroy the flue liner, interior chimney masonry and adjacent building materials of the home.
Preventing fires in your chimney
Short of not using your fireplace, the only way to work toward preventing chimney fires is with regular chimney sweeping (cleaning) by a service technician who has the tools and training to safely remove creosote from your flue.
A common problem in neglected chimneys is sluggish venting of smoke and combustion gases. This most often occurs when outside debris such as leaves, twigs, falling fruit, small-animal nests and dead small animals build up inside the flue, narrowing the smoke passage. Excess creosote and soot also can narrow the passage.
When smoke can’t draft properly, it can back up into your home and carry with it carbon monoxide, which is known to be potentially fatal to people and pets.
Solving drafting problems
Smoke not drafting because of obstructions is a dangerous situation, but fortunately, it’s one that’s easily solved. First, have your chimney cleaned as described above. Second, install a proper chimney cap to protect the flue opening from debris.
Chimney leaks and water damage
Water and bricks don’t mix – especially when the water (from rain or snow) has gotten into cracks in the chimney’s masonry. Once this happens, you can expect some level of brick and mortar damage and possibly widespread damage throughout your chimney system.
In southern Massachusetts, it’s common to see major brick decay due to the freezing and then expansion of infiltrating water. These freeze/thaw cycles happen many times during our long New England winters.
Water also can get in through damaged or missing chimney caps, cracked chimney crowns and warped or damaged roof flashing.
Fixing leaky chimneys
Leaky chimney repair is two-fold:
- Discover the source of the leak and stop it
- Resolve any damage caused by the leak
Licensed chimney service companies have a variety of ways to address water damage and stop leaks. Never put off chimney leak repair – or any other repairs – after you know the work is necessary.
Above & Beyond Chimney Service of Dedham, MA, provides complete chimney inspections, chimney cleaning and all types of repair and rebuilding to keep your chimney safe and efficient. We’re here year-round to help with all your chimney maintenance needs.
Get your questions answered or schedule an appointment with one of our experienced chimney technicians by calling (781) 383-0415.